It’s that time of year!  The hot summer has finally come to an end and the trees are changing colors.  My favorite time of year….except for cold and flu season!  So, what can you do to avoid get colds and the flu, and if you think you are getting a cold or flu – what can you do to lessen the blow?

1) Wash Your Hands: Good hand washing is the #1 way to prevent getting a cold or the flu, as well as to prevent the spread of colds and flu.

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.

2) Avoid Sick People: Germs are everywhere, but they are particularly concentrated in people who are sick. Keep these people away from you and disinfect everything they touch.  It is easy to keep those handy lysol wipes available to disinfect work areas, phones, door knobs, etc.

3) Get Plenty of RestIn order to allow your immune system to work to it’s full potential, it is important to rest.  I urge my patients to get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.  If you are lacking that amount of sleep, then try napping if possible during the day.  But, try to get all your sleep at night, when possible.

4) Eat Well: Another way to arm your immune system, is to eat good foods.   You may not feel like eating if you are sick – but try and eat good foods when you do eat.  Simple sugars and carbs cause inflammation and do not help an already weakened immune system.

5) Drink Plenty of Fluids: When your body is fighting an illness your immune system is working overtime. Make sure it has everything it needs to function at its best, including plenty of water.  Remember, the recommended amount of water is 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water.

6) Avoid Group Foods: Unfortunately, many people fail to wash their hands.  So, during flu season (and really most anytime) avoid eating from group dips or bowls.  If there is a spoon and people are using it to spoon the food onto their plate – then fine!  If not, then avoid it!  Why? People may use the hand they just sneezed in to turn a chip around a few times until they find the perfect dipping angle. That means they are adding their nasty germs directly into the salsa. Yuck.

7) Get Your Flu Shot:  I highly recommend small children and older adults get their flu shot every year.  I also recommend that any person who is potential immunocompromised get their flu shot.  This includeds people with comorbid diseases like diabetes, copd, heart disease, HIV, cancer, on chemotherapy, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.  Everyone else is encouraged to get their flu shot, as well – but these groups are at higher risk of the occurence of the flu, and poor outcomes if they get the flu.

8) Take Your Multivitamin: Studies support the evidence that taking a good multivitamin lessens your chance of get sick.  I didn’t say it would PREVENT you from getting sick, but it does lessen the chance.  Check out this blog to see what multivitamin is right for you!

Following all of these tips will not guarantee you will get sick, but it will lessen your chances.  Take care of yourself, during this time of year!